Whether you’re a first timer or a repeat visitor, there are SO many things to do in Napa Valley! On my very first trip, I covered so much in the few days during my stay in Yountville, so I wanted to put together our daily travel guide filled with where to eat and what to do – and of course where to stay. Keep reading to find out more about my stay at Hotel Yountville + see my very first (of hopefully more to come) Napa travel guide!
Keep Reading Napa Travel Guide
Getting to Yountville
If you’ve looked into visiting Napa or Sonoma before, then you know that there are no direct airports in either area. Your two options are to fly to either San Francisco or Sacramento and from their renting a car or booking a car service. We flew nonstop from New Orleans to SFO and rented a car for the rest of our trip. Driving to Yountville took about 1.5 hours (one toll there and one toll back taking the Bay Bridge route), but driving back to SFO took closer to 2 hours because of traffic. We lucked out because we left earlier than we needed to otherwise, we could have missed our flight! Definitely take into account San Francisco traffic (which omg is crazy btw) there and back. Otherwise the drive was pretty scenic, and I felt like it went by pretty quickly. We also didn’t mind having the rental car with us because it meant we could get out and explore on our own rather than rely on Uber or hotel transportation.
While sharing my stay at Hotel Yountville on IG and IG Stories, I had so many of you tell me that you have also stayed there before – some even on honeymoons!
First, let me talk about the rooms that have everything you could ever want – canopy bed that feels like a cloud, fireplace, walk-out porch, giant bath tub. You almost never want to leave the room. BUT with your room mere walking distance to basically everything in Yountville, it’s hard to not want to explore! We were able to walk around town at least once a day during our stay, and if walking isn’t your speed, you can take off on one of the complimentary bikes – request a cruiser with a basket!
The real gem of the hotel is the pool deck lined with perfect loungers, cabanas and a fire pit. Off to one side is the hotel restaurant and patio area where you can grab breakfast or lunch daily. (Kitchen also runs room service to and from your room on the back of a bicycle!) On the other side you have the spa and the poolside bar. Food, spa, and lounging – all my favorite ways to indulge during any hotel stay!
(I also really appreciated the nightly turn down service that would drop off chocolates and water every night to your room!)
We arrived at SFO at 9:00 am on a Monday. The baggage claim and rental car process took about an hour, so we were on the road at about 10 am. *Our original plan was to eat lunch at Gotts Roadside in St. Helena around noon, but we neglected to take into account the two hour time difference. By 10:30, our stomachs which were still on Central time were telling us that it was lunch time, so we pulled off for drive-thru food (wah, wah).
We arrived at Hotel Yountville almost exactly at noon, and we were delighted that our room was already ready for us! We went on a short property tour to get a layout of the hotel and its amenities. And we were enjoying the fresh air so much that we decided to explore Yountville afterwards on foot. (Of course this included getting a snack at Bouchon Bakery, but more on that below.) SO many things are within walking distance of the hotel including V Marketplace which is in itself so charming. Inside, you’ll find little storefronts and shops and a delicious chocolate spot. On the walk back, we stopped to get snacks and extra water for the room at a small grocery store – I can’t remember the name, but it was really convenient.
Back at the hotel, we started unpacking and settling in before dinner. *Our original dinner plan was to eat at Bottega in V Marketplace, but we couldn’t wait until our 8:15 reservation! We were absolutely starving, so we found a 6:30 reservation at Redd Wood which was delicious! For food suggestions, we ordered the sausage pizza and the mushroom ravioli which was the perfect amount for two people. I’d also recommend eating outside, but since we were so hungry, we took the first table available inside.
Fueling up for our first full day was a must, so we headed to breakfast at Bouchon Bakery just a short distance away from Hotel Yountville. Because we were able to ogle over all the pastries and breakfast sandwiches they day before, we already know what we were ordering: a ham cheese egg croissant, a bacon cheddar scone, and a sinful cinnamon roll. We ate every bite underneath the yellow umbrellas outside, and it was delicious. Although, I’m still mad that I didn’t try one of the giant macarons.
While doing a little research before the trip, I read that the Napa Farmer’s Market was every Tuesday and Saturday. And what better spot to pick up picnic essentials, right? The market is located in downtown Napa, so we headed out with full stomachs. Big mistake. We ended up wanting to sample all the vendors – and we did. We tried lush peaches, baked treats, green tea oatmeal, and even local teas. And we ended up leaving with a fresh baguette, strawberries, various types of grapes, and wildflowers for our picnic!
Still in need of meat and cheeses, we headed over to nearby Oxbow Market which is also in Downtown Napa. Again, I wanted to taste-test everything!! We headed to the charcuterie bar where we selected meat, different cheeses and local jam – would have loved to have sampled a full board here! * This post is quickly turning into a foodie blog post.
We had lunch plans at Sky & Vine rooftop at the Archer Hotel, but our stomachs once again sabotaged that plan since we had basically been eating all day. Instead, we did a little scenic tour of the downtown area, and I have to mention the Segway Tours available of Downtown Napa – I had friends do it, and it looked like a lot of fun!
By the time we made it back to the hotel to drop off our goods (the rooms have mini fridges for groceries), it was afternoon, and we headed off to our first winery. With most wineries, you need exact reservation times, but with Inglenook Winery, you are able to stop by the welcome center where they can try to fit you into a tasting or let you enjoy at your own pace in the bistro area. We chose the latter and took advantage of the empty courtyard seating to enjoy the vineyard views. The chateau was literally like being transported back into Tuscany. Side note: the bistro attendant was super helpful when it came to wine and cheese pairings, but don’t let “bistro” mislead you because cheese is really the only food item you can order.
That evening we had a dinner reservation for Lucy at the Bardessono hotel which is just a short walking distance away. Hotel Yountville also offers a courtesy car in the evenings which we quickly realized we should have taken advantage of – walking back after dinner was FREEZING. Lesson learned. We probably didn’t realize how much the temps dropped because we dined outside underneath these glorious heaters. For starters, we ordered tempura veggies and the pesto gnocchi – both so good! I love how many small plate options they have for sharing and trying different things. For entrees, we ordered both the steak and scallops – can’t say enough about the endless amounts of amazing food. The dessert menu looked equally as delicious, but we were so full – so our waiter brought out a little plate of chocolates and macarons to end the perfect meal.
If there is one thing that you should take away from this blog post: Always Trust Oprah. While doing my Napa research, I read about The Model Bakery in St. Helena where they make these famous English muffins that are one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. Well not only does Hotel Yountville serve them, there is a Mini Model Bakery right down the street. It’s literally so mini that we couldn’t find it the first time we looked – it’s inside the caboose of an old train car! Y’all… I don’t even like English muffins, but I will dream about these for years to come. They were so good that we went back again just so we could have one more before we left. I can’t even put it into words – just eat the English muffins. Trust me.
Before lunch, we had a tasting scheduled at Nickel & Nickel – by far the most charming winery I’ve even seen! Imagine the most perfect country cottage, a white barn, rescue horses, a windmill, a field of wildflowers and sunflowers – that’s Nickel & Nickel. They specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon so they paired different varietals from the area with local cheese during the tasting, and we toured the property. The whole operation runs off of solar panels which I thought was so interesting as well! Love loved this place and was ready to move in and adopt my new horses.
Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to round up our picnic lunch. Tip: The concierge can provide a list of wineries that allow people to bring their own picnic lunches into the vineyards. If you haven’t sourced your own picnic essentials like we did, Hotel Yountville also offers a lunch option where they prepare your picnic lunch for you! Another option is V. Sattui Winery where you can purchase and enjoy your picnic on the grounds.
I scheduled my spa treatment for an aromatherapy massage early that afternoon. All the massage options at Hotel Yountville are a nice 90 minutes of relaxation.
Later that afternoon, we had more time to explore Yountville on foot. We still literally had so many things left to see + a ton of places with complimentary tasting offers that we received by staying at Hotel Yountville:
• Silver Trident Winery is nearby for tastings, but it’s also a Ralph Lauren showroom.
• Hill Family Estate is super close as well.
• And I can’t forget about Domaine Chandon if you like bubbles!!
On our last night, we finally made it up to St. Helena for dinner – I wish we had more time to explore this area! Our reservations were at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch which is the most charming farm-to-table restaurant. We literally walked through the gardens and sunflowers before we sat down to eat. The mini ham and cheese sandwiches appetizer is a must. They use a delicious, freshly-made pepper jelly on cheddar biscuits.And the burger for the main entree… OMG. I’m realizing that I’ve only really written about food this entire post, but I can’t get over all the great food we had!
Other Winery Recommendations:
Chateau Montelena – another gorgeous, old world chateau
Wheeler Farms – this was a local suggestion we got
Clif Family – go for lunch at their on-site food truck
Opus One – I was told by a friend this place is breathtaking
Caymus – I wish we had time to go to this one!
Artesa – you can see San Francisco from this winery
Other Yountville Meal Recommendations:
The French Laundry – this Michelin restaurant requires reservations months in advance
Bistro Jeanty – didn’t have time to eat here, but SO many people messaged me about it
The highway between Downtown Napa up to Calistoga is only two lanes and there is a likelihood of traffic. At one point the roads narrowed to two lanes because of construction. Definitely take into account possible traffic if you have winery reservations for specific times. I kept all the addresses and phone numbers to every location we were going to in a note on my phone so that I could call ahead if I needed to. ALSO very important, cellular service is a hit or miss, so pull up any driving instructions before you leave your hotel wifi connection. But this did lead to me being on my phone a lot less. 😉
Any questions about Hotel Yountville or what we did while there? Leave a comment or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photos by Lainey Reed